SINGAPORE – When it became clear that many seniors were reluctant to continue with their rehabilitation, a new approach had them taking boxing lessons and playing football to get them excited about getting better.

For 81-year-old Ho Ah Eng, who suffers from an unsteady gait and lower limb injury, the boxing lessons he received once a week helped improve his balance and strength.

It has become his favourite activity at the Telok Blangah Senior Care Centre, located at Block 92 Telok Blangah Street 31.

“It is definitely more interesting and I feel I have learnt a new sport and skill too,” said Mr Ho, who has been going there every day since May, when he joined the centre.

Eldercare provider Active Global Caregivers officially launched the centre and an active ageing hub located next door on Wednesday (Sept 11).

At the centre, seniors can take penalty shots and receive boxing lessons, all part of an effort to help them overcome their reluctance to continue with their rehabilitation.

The activities are designed to complement the seniors’ core physiotherapy programme.

The centre introduced the activities in August after learning that seniors were finding the rehabilitation exercises dreary and repetitive.

Going through physiotherapy was also depressing for many as they associated it with visits to the doctor regarding their state of health.

“Usually people are very reluctant because each time they have rehab it reminds them of that bad news,” said Ms Yorelle Kalika, 44, founder and chief executive of Active Global Caregivers.

Since opening in January 2019, more than 137 senior citizens have registered with the centre, which is equipped with a games room, karaoke room and nature lounge alongside the rehabilitation and treatment rooms.

Madam Ng Ai Bee takes aim at the mini-golf course in Telok Blangah Senior Care Centre. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

It also features a quiet sensory room specially designed to help dementia patients calm down.

The adjacent active ageing hub offers other seniors in the neighbourhood free access to its gym, pantry and social space, which hosts daily workshops and discussions facilitated by volunteers.

The centre places a strong emphasis on being widely accessible to seniors and caregivers, opening its doors seven days a week, and on public holidays.

It also provide door-to-door transport for seniors who live in Telok Blangah, Bukit Merah, Alexandra, Chinatown and Tiong Bahru.

Active Global Caregivers said its services, which can be covered by MediFund, are also made more affordable with government subsidies of up to 80 per cent.

Special Adviser to the Ministry of Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang, who was guest of honour at the launch, said as Singapore’s ageing population increases steadily, it is important to have an innovative healthcare system to meet senior citizens’ dynamic needs.

“Singapore is taking tremendous strides to improve in terms of eldercare and keeping senior citizens engaged, entertained, alert and happy,” he added.

Mr Lim, who is a West Coast GRC MP, commended the centre in particular for appealing to male senior citizens, who are typically more conservative and not as amenable to outreach programmes.

Ms Kalika said the centre believes in empowering seniors with the freedom to choose from a large variety of meaningful activities that are suited to both genders.

For Madam Ng Ai Bee, 73, a daycare client of the centre, the activities bring back childhood memories of playing games and competing with friends.

“When we play mini-golf and everyone at the centre cheers for us, we don’t realise that we are exercising our bodies while having fun.”